Substrate Series: Double Gauze

We are so excited to be partnering with Colette Patterns for a fun and informative Substrate Series! Learn all about a specific fabric substrate here on the Cotton+Steel blog, then pop over to the Colette Patterns blog to see how it sews up into garments. Yay knowledge!

So what is a substrate, exactly? In fabric production, substrate refers that the material that a design is applied to. This can mean the fiber content (cotton? linen? rayon?) but it can also mean the weight and weave structure.

Today’s featured substrate is double gauze.

Whisper-soft, cloud-like, high snuggability, something you want to squish your face into - yes, these are all qualities of a baby bunny. They are also the qualities of double gauze.

Double gauze has been growing in popularity recently because it is so comfy and soft. It has the much-loved, broken-in feel of your favorite shirt or quilt, and you can find it in both prints and solids. In 2014, Cotton+Steel released Bespoke, an exclusively double gauze collection, and since then has included several double gauze prints in each new release.

Below is a video all about that double gauze collection:

What is Double Gauze?

So what is double gauze, exactly? Before we talk about double gauze, let’s first discuss gauze.

Gauze is a very loosely woven fabric that can be made from a variety of fibers. (Cotton+Steel double gauze is all made of 100% cotton.) The loose weave gives the fabric a very soft drape, and it also means that a single layer is rather transparent. Gauze is a very old textile; it is thought that the English word “gauze” can be traced back through the centuries to the placename Gaza, an area in the Middle East that was once known for silk gauze production. The Arabic word for raw silk is “qazz,” which also can be traced back to the word Gaza.

To create double gauze, two very thin layers of gauze are combined to create one textile, hence the double. They are connected every centimeter or so by a single thread that is woven from one layer through the other and back again. You can actually see these threads as a faint grid on the wrong side of the fabric.

You can easily see these two layers if you look at a cross section of the fabric, and you can even start to pull them apart a little bit.

This double-layer weave structure does a few things. First, it makes the overall fabric much more opaque. Second, the tiny bit of air trapped between the layers creates a lofty, spongy effect, especially after the fabric is washed. It’s almost like an extremely thin quilt - two layers with a little space in between, tacked together in intervals. Major snuggle factor.

Working with Double Gauze

Because Cotton+Steel double gauze is 100% cotton, you can wash it in the washing machine, then either cool tumble dry or line dry. We recommend prewashing before you sew anything, especially a garment, as it might shrink a little bit.

The two layers can make double gauze feel a bit wiggly when sewing. The best remedy for this is to take your time while working with it and pin where necessary. You can also press the fabric with a some spray starch or pressing spray to make it feel a bit sturdier. Because of the looser weave structure, double gauze will fray more quickly than some other fabrics, so be sure to finish any exposed raw edges. Also, staystitching edges before sewing zippers and necklines will help keep the looser weave from stretching out.

So what to make with double gauze? A lot of things! Any garment that you want to be lightweight, soft and drapey is a great choice - blouses, shirts, skirts, summer dresses, pajamas. Double gauze makes the dreamiest infinity scarves, too, and the softest, most snuggly quilts. Do keep in mind that double gauze has a very soft visual look, so if you are trying to make something that you want to have sharp, defined edges - for instance, a crisp button down shirt with an angular pointed collar - using double gauze is going to make all the details a little rounder and a little less defined.

photo by Colette Patterns

photo by Colette Patterns

Want to learn more about sewing with double gauze? Head over to the Colette Patterns blog to see their post featuring their Crepe Dress pattern stitched up in a Cotton+Steel double gauze from designer Kim Kight’s newest collection, Rotary Club, as well as tons of great sewing tips for working with double gauze.